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TA01 Michelin Pilot Escort Restomod with a few Hop Ups

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So I was visiting the warehouse of a "local pickup only" auction site in my area, sort of a cross between eBay and CL, and I saw this on a shelf for the next week's auctions:


The next week, I watched over that sucker like a hawk and I ended up paying a measly $22 for it.

The box was in pretty clean condition and if I figured if the box was so nice, it couldn't be so bad, right? :)


Being my first vintage Tamiya and all, I really appreciated all of the cutaway drawings on the box



After staring at the box for awhile, it was time to open my "Ark".


Initial reactions: Pretty dusty and dirty, but looks fairly complete. I was relieved the manual was included. However the original wing, side mirrors and interior set all nowhere to be seen.


The original owner even left some of the original decals like the tire decals and a GENUINE Traxxas TQ AM Radio manual! What a snag!!! It also looked like some junk from the original servo saver was rolling in the bottom of the box.

Once most of the junk was taken out of the box, I took a moment to take in all the detailing Tamiya put into these old boxes:


Ok, enough staring at the darn box, let's get on to the car!


The body had a few cracks, definitely not a shelf queen or worth trying to restore, but certainly acceptable quality for a runner, which is how I will use it. The original owner did a pretty decent job painting and decalling the body some 24 odd years ago, but some of the paint had flaked off, especially around the front.



All the wheels decals were present and intact which was a plus.


Now let's take a look at that chassis the body is sitting on. Nothing looked broken and it even came with a vintage Trinity Midnite motor!



The rally block tires had been sitting nearly 20 years without foams, they had massive, nearly comical flat spots and were dry rotted beyond belief. They were absolute junk.


Only two of the tires came off in one piece. I kept them as crappy souvenirs.


Hiding behind those dirty wheels was a pleasant surprise, ball bearings!


I started to tear down the chassis to see how it worked, and assess the condition of the mechanicals.

The gears looked to be in pretty good shape. Whoever built the car was pretty liberal with their grease application. Unfortunately the ball bearings were limited to just the hubs.


After I finished disassembling the front, I moved my way to the rear, putting plastic in the tray you see to the left to be washed.


After I stripped the entire car down and removed everything, I sorted all of the hardware and metal components in another tray and soaked it with PB Blaster.

I binned the motor, diffs and shocks.


Reassembly and hopups will come in the next update.

Total invested as of yet: $22

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11 minutes ago, Backlash said:

Maybe its just me, but your pics aren't showing...


yeah, Twinset told me about that, should be fixed now. It's because I tried to use Google Photos to host images, but I moved them onto imgur so it should be good.

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  Velineon did you come across from URC?

Either way, nice score on the Cosworth, bargain price.

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5 hours ago, Jason1145 said:

  Velineon did you come across from URC?

Either way, nice score on the Cosworth, bargain price.

Yes, I did, the Tamiya section there is pretty inactive. The bargains on this project continued as you will see in the next update... :)

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After I finished disassembling all of the plastic pieces, I put them into an aluminum baking tray and soaked and scrubbed them in our wash basin. I scrubbed them with Dawn an spent about 30-45 minutes. I was able to get most of the loose dirt off, but with this being an Ohio car, there was some stubborn clay in the hex webbing of the chassis tub that was difficult to remove. In the red diff cases there was the stubborn metallic sludge that was evenly coated throughout. After doing my best to clean it, I reassembled it, confident that it was mechanically sound and ready to drive.

For electronics, I used the stock velineon 540 brushless motor and vxl3s combo that came in my Traxxas Slash 4x4, and a Alturn Servo which is the OEM for some of the Hobbyking Turnigy Trackstar TS-xxx series servos.

I also put on a set of drift rims and tires because I didn't want to curb the original wheels.

The next day after work, I stopped by my LHS to see if they had any compatible parts. Since the TA01 was orignally the DF01 Manta Ray, the Hop-Up nomenclature can be pretty confusing for these cars, thus I assembled a list of parts to look out for. You can see the list I made here:


Anyways, my LHS is a family owned store and I have a pretty good relationship with the owner and his employees. So all I had to do was smile and ask, and I was allowed to enter the backroom where all the ancient Tamiya parts are hanging from the rafters. I managed to find several standard replacement parts for the TA01, as well as some Hop-Ups so I grabbed them. Many of the parts I found had been stocked 20+ years ago and did not have price tags. Thus I was able to talk them into using the yen exchange rate.

That is how I was able to get all of this for all of $36 dollars.


Losi Slicks (found in bargain bin as cheap replacement for decrepit rally blocks) - $4 x 2 pair = $8

53157  TA02 Aluminum King Pins - $5

83071 Manta Ray Torque Splitter - $15, (They cut me a deal on this one)

53098 Stainless Suspension shafts - $4

53079 Stainless Propeller shaft $4

It's kind of a win for both the hobby shop and me because I get a sweet deal on some rare old parts, and they get to move some old unsold inventory and make room for faster selling products.

I immediately set to work installing my new goodies.

I did the suspension pins first. This made me question whether or not it was really a Hop-Up, with all those pesky e-clips. You can also see here that I changed out the springs for of the Tamiya On-Road Spring set ones.


Then I swapped the center shaft, the stock shaft was more like a rusty coathanger rod.


I also ditched any junk related to the MSC.


I swapped out the rear springs too.


Now, onto the main prize, the Torque Splitter.

After reading what it actually is, I realized it was a front one-way, so I decided to acutally make this TA01 into a drifter.

Opening the blister package was one of the most satisfying experiences so far in this project.

Here are the contents:


Here it is all built up. It took me three tries because I accidentally put in the one way bearing backwards the first two times.


Here's what it looks like inside. As you can see, the driveline still has many nylon bushings. When I installed the center shaft I added two small bearings from my stash. 



Unfortunately the Aluminum Kingpins did not fit. I thought they might work, but they did not, because the shoulder part was too short, and the thread part was too short. Oh well :(

After taking it for a test drive, I must say this is way better than the TT02 I had been driving. Due to the TA01 horizontal motor layout with the offset shaft, there was absolutely no noticeable torque steer when drifting. The TA01 also had better steering angle out of the box, even compared to my TT02 after lots of Dremeling. While driving, the TA01 goes exactly where I point it, and I have never felt so confident when drifting. To improve it further I swapped the ball diff to the front, and filled the gear diff with hot glue to lock it, which I moved to the rear. This helped with breaking traction. I later discovered that the metallic sludge in the gear cases was bits of aluminum alloy dust from the two gears in the rear, as well as the pinion.

It'll be a little while before I do anything major the TA01, as I will be moving up to Ithaca NY for college next week. However, next up I want to fully equip the car with ball bearings. I've had good luck with the cheapy metal shielded packs on eBay so I will go with one of those. I also want to exchange the rear metal gears for the plastic TA02 version. Lastly, I would like to get my hands on a Skyline Speed Gear set, as running the motor at higher rpms is getting hot and I have plenty of torque on tap, so it would be nice to make the motor run cooler, and give me more top end.

If I can do it affordably, I would also be interested in swapping out the front suspension for the TA02 version, so I can decrease the scrub radius and adjust front camber.

I'll get some pics of it drifting up soon.

Total Invested in Project

$22 (car) + $36 (Hop Ups) = $58

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If your going to run it, why didn't you replace the bushings with ball races?

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9 hours ago, Backlash said:

If your going to run it, why didn't you replace the bushings with ball races?

I didn't have enough on hand. I'll probably order something like this:


Then this:


to get rid of the metal gears that are disintegrating in the read gearbox.


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On 14/08/2017 at 3:33 PM, graemevw said:

No MOT history available but Its registered sorn so it still exists :)

It is also insured

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Looks good, got a similar (but stalled) build on the go myself, have very fond memories of the TA01 chassis, they drive great IMO. 

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